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Sep 13, 2005 04:40 PM

harold's...what's the deal?

  • m

while driving south on the n.j. parkway coming from trader joe's, my friend asked if i had ever been to harold's(think around edison)..when i responded no, she demanded i post on chowhound and see what public opinion has to say...she finds harold's an "experience" not to be what's the deal?

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  1. p

    BIG portions is the initial "deal". BUT not just BIG portions, it's also GOOD food. (Unlike many joints with large portions or "all you can eat" with mediocre food- a coupla mouthfuls and I say, "Whow, that's all *I* can eat of this stuff...".)

    Back before they torn down my nearby auto plant, we used to get Harold's sandwiches every coupla weeks or so on Friday. I'd get a Hot Pastami (which came with, IIRC, 4 extra slices of rye bread, a large pickle and a good-sized order of great cole slaw). I ate 1/2 for lunch, brought it home, had some of it for dinner and often had some left over for a Saturday snack. And that was the "regular" size, not the big one (see menu on site below).

    I remember picking up our order once, and pointing out an odd looking thing in the dessert cooler. It was larger than a typical whole sub, but it had chocolate on it. "Oh, that's just their eclair...."

    Check out this site for reviews and photos...


    7 Replies
    1. re: PeterBallantine

      I agree with PeterBallantine that Harold's gives not just HUGE portions, but that the food is actually quite good. One caveat, however--this assessment does not necessarily apply to the other deli establishments that have the name "Harold's". This only applies to the one in Edison.

      I was told (and this could be incorrect) that, in the past, the owner has sold some locations and then moved on to new ones. The new owners of the old locations have the right to use the "Harold's" name, which could lead you to believe that they are all under the same ownership, with similar food. However, I have found that the locations other than the one in Edison are pale imitations of the "real" one.

      Go to the one in Edison with a few friends. Order enough food to feed perhaps half of the number of people in your party. You will find that you will be given enough good-quality food to feed everyone generously, and will still have left-overs to bring home. Seeing everyone's reactions to the portions is really amusing, and when you realize how good the food is, I think that you will find the experience worthwhile.

      1. re: JB

        AGREE 1000%....a rare balance of quantity and quality...Do not miss the health salad,pickeled green tomatoes and the hot cherry peppers served at the pickel bar...Leo Steiner smiles down on Harold....

        1. re: bobby p

          Leo Steiner...! The connection that brought Harold to the Carnegie for a while when his Harold's in Verona failed. Would you happen to know if Harold is able to buy his pastrami's from the Carnegie plant...I think it's in the East Rutherford area.

          You obviously know something about Harold, too. I no longer live in NJ and never got to either the Lyndhurst or Edison locations....Just know about the business dealings through my former business partner. I know Harold way back from his Verona days.

          Always loved his catering menu and him standing there surrounded by obscene amounts of food. Great photo. I'd bet he's still using it. Nobody knows more about deli than this guy...nobody!

        2. re: JB

          Harold is famous for his huge portions, his huge individual girth and his method of doing business. He started in the Oranges with a small sandwich shoppe...Always served huge portions. He knows his food and his concept is give people lots of food.

          He buys sick locations, builds them up, and sells them. But, once he leaves, they usually go downhill...FAST. He took over the old Claremont Diner in Verona, but that one eventually failed. He then went to work for the Carnegie Deli in NY for a while, but quickly got back into his own business. I believe he took over a motel coffee shop location in Lyndhurst after his stint at the Carnegie. then Edison? I believe he and his wife still own the one in Edison.

          He's a legend in the deli business. Tough businessman, who knows how to make a great sandwich. If he's there, the food will be great. If only his name is "there" and he's not...all bets are off.

          1. re: Chuck

            There was a Harolds on Route 1 in West Windsor about 10 yeears ago. Had the same business model. The place closed about a year after it was sold.

            1. re: Joe

              Yeah...he's a piece of work. Cavat Emptore (sp) if you get my drift. sorry for botching the spelling...Haven't used the term since grad school.

              1. re: Chuck

                If by Edison you mean the one at Raritan Center, then it's the "authentic" Harold's.

      2. After reading about Harold's here and on Roadfood, I was determined try this "legendary" deli. Although my wife and I currently reside in SW Virginia (not a decent bagel or deli sandwich to be found!), we both grew up in northern NJ and still have family there, so we drive up to visit several times a year. On one such trek last week, we decided to try Harold's (the one in Raritan Center in Edison).

        I can only say that the place lives up to it's reputation. I ordered a cup of chicken noodle soup (just like Mom's) and my wife hit the pickel bar for sours, half-sours and kosher dills, as well as health salad. All were great. We decided to split a "small" - 13 oz. corned beef Rueben sandwich and a potato knish. So help me, the sandwich was 10" in diameter and nearly 8" high, piled with lean (like butta) corned beef, slaw, Russian dressing and topped with melted Swiss cheese. The potato knish was 9" in diameter and 4" thick. Needless to say, we barely managed to finish half the food and took home a nice package (fa-layta, as they say). We got 2-1/2 additional sandwiches out of the leftovers! The food quality was excellent. We couldn't have been more satisfied. My only complaint was paying $2.60 for a 12-once can of Dr. Brown's cream soda.

        Our check came to $45 with tip, but considering the amount and quality of the food, we felt it was a good value. It seems that the key to really enjoying Harold's is to come with either a huge appetite or a group of deli-loving friends. In any case, we'll be hitting Harold's again on our next trip up north.

        1 Reply
        1. re: John Fugel

          I just ate there over the weekend. As visitng family members demand to go whenever in the area, I seem to dine at Harolds at least 6 times a year. While the reaction from diners to the size of the portions gets pretty old, the quality of the food is still excellent. For those of you wanting to branch out from the corned beef or pastrami try the spectacular hard salami (think dried herbrew national akin to the best beef jerky you''ve ever had) and to die for kasha varniskas (buckweat groats with bowtie pasta) and gravy. Wash all that down with a dr browns or egg cream and your kvelling.

        2. I can add to the raves. Pictures of the ghastly portion sizes simply do not do them justice. But as others have said, not only are the portions huge, the food is actually good. Anytime I have to drive near Edison, I try to stop by...usually on the way home since I know I'll have tons of leftovers.

          1. The food is great and given the size of the portions the cost is reasonable; but I actually find the extra extra large portions problematic. I like to get more than one type of deli meat, but with the portions that Harolds gives out it is an unrasonable amount of food. Certainly worth a try.

            There had been a deli owned by Harold in W.Windsor and as others have said, Harold has a touch that others seem not to hold. The place tanked in short time. He allegedly took it back, reworked it again and sold it. Once again the place went to hell. Its gone now.